tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC October 10, 2010 10:00am-10:30am PST
>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> i can hear you. >> a time for change has come! chris: he's got a war to fight out there. does he lead a united team back here? is there real division in who we 're fighting, what we're fighting for? and are the president and his secretary of state together on this? changing of the guard? would it make sense forhe t president to switch vice presidents or would it show him ruthless, weak, and worst of all, scared? finally, has it gone this bad? have the obama democrats offended voters so much that they will elect the truly
dangerous? hi, i'm chris matthews. bob woodward is with us author of "the new york times" bestseller, and the bbc's katty kay, andrea mitchell, and "new york times" david brooks. the president faces a brutal election next months and also faces the reality of a far more brutal war. the title of bob woodward's book is "obama's wars." but it raises the question, does obama have united command? that's the big question raised again this week. is he in charge? are they all together, including the vice president, on the fighting of this war? >> well, he's definitely in charge. but within obama, i think he's of two minds. intellectually he realizes the war in afghanistan, the secret war in pakistan, which is the center of all of this, is not going well. at the same time, he's the boss, he's the commander in chief, so he decided to send more troops, so the war continues. but there is so much unsettled.
secretary gates, who's the key here, is leaving. he has one foot out the door. who replaces him? that's probably one of the key decisions -- there are 10, if you want to go through a list. chris: in your book you say the secretary of state hillary clinton joining with secretary gates to hold over the republican secretary of defense against vice president biden's position, thereby narrowing the president's options. explain. >> well, you know, once you have -- i call them the five blocks of granite, the three military people and gates and clinton saying, you've got to send 40,000 troops. the president decided on 30,000. the political advisors in the white house very much felt that this was unfair to the president , that politics -- i don't think so. i think hillary clinton is a real sincere hawk. chris: there was a sense by richard holbrooke, by gibbs, the president's press secretary, when secretary clinton joined
with the military folks against biden, she was also narrowing what the president could do, leaving him few options. and they didn't like it. your view? >> i think that's very true. and the fact is that generals were also aligned. it was very, very difficult for this president to go up against the military men. he has the same problem that bill clinton had, being a non-military president. he had no real credibility with the military, so i think he felt jammed by it and the political side of the white house has not forgiven that. chris: but in the last administration we saw secretary colin powell as a counterbalance to the hawkish views of rumsfel and cheney. now it's an interesting 2-1 you see gates and hillary clinton putting down biden, making him the odd man out. what does that do? >> it's remarkable, because the secretary of state and the secretary of defense have a natural rivalry. and through history those two secretaries have not gotten along. but secretary gates has made it his job to get along with the
secretary of defense, whether it's condi rice and now hillary clinton. it's created this wall of support. obama intellectually sided with them as the debate went on, but i don't think his heart or his passion was ever in it. now his heart is saying there's a little buyer's remorse right now in the white house. chris: here's bob's description. "nearly everyone could see that by supporting mcchrystal, clinton was joining forces with the uniformed military and the secretary of defense, diminishing the president's running mate was a definitive moment in her relationship to the white house team. could she be trusted even though it seemed circumscribed? anything can happen." another point in your book, you say, "mr. president, you have a dilemma here." that a scene out of kennedy and the cuban missile crisis. didn't they see that as, well, not prieston owes, but -- >> some people thought she's not a team player, because she's saying, you, it's on you, mr.
president. other people use the "you" in this meeting and so forth, but what it shows is how spring-loaded the white house people are to hillary clinton, because they all remembered the 2008 primary battle where, you know, by a hair obama won. chris: this is great stuff, because here's richard holbrooke, who i thought was a hillary guy. he was one of the people in your book that says, wait a minute, your war problems? i thought she was part of the team, katty? >> it reflects the ambivalence. to suggest that he was gung ho for this war from the beginning. he was a man that said he wanted this open airing of discussion, he wanted hillary to say what hews vie are. chris: did he want her to be more hawkish than him? was this a good political move? >> i don't think that was it necessarily. i think he genuinely wanted the open debate that he felt there wasn't during the bush administration, that he felt
this was the right way to run the presidency. the risk is that you have these kind of divisions in public. >> it was historical when colin powell, his outside advisor, comes in and says, you are the commander in chief. you can make these decisions. chris: david, i have to bring this, too, before i get back to bob and andrea, i want to have you as an outside observer here. it seems odd if you're talking about a president who's a little bit of two minds about this war and it's getting to be less popular all the time, the war in afghanistan. why would he drop in all the speculation a vice president who was politicalcally right, in other words, on the left in terms of a softer line, let's get out of afghanistan, and bring in someone who is notoriously more hawkish than him? >> i confess it's not going to happen. the white house is in disarray, people are leaving and beaten down by the polls. but they're sort of sick of washington. i don't think they feel embattled or defeated or down or they need to make major changes. they're going through a process
of transition, obviously. i don't think they're thinking we have to do big things. >> look how much they're deploying vice president joe biden. look at where they're sending him. he's going to carrying on a cofse our traveling over the next few weeks. they still feel hillary clinton has the pull with white voters but they feel joe biden has out sufficiently. chris: you said on the table, but when you read closely what your reporting was, it was on the clinton people's table, not the white house's table. the clinton people obviously -- >> what's so fascinating about this is they never want to say she has political ambitions, and then when you point out to people in the state department in that hillary circle and you say, you know, her clout around the world has a lot to do with the fact that when she goes there, they see a future prt.iden and so they're in the situation of they have to deny it, but not too much.
chris: does she have the idea of being president somewhere down the line? have they thought through what the best route is? >> i don't think there's any moan lithuaniaic view. there's -- monolithic view. there's a lot of game playing going on. the secretary of state has foresworn some of this. chris: people in reality, what do they think what they've heard from her? >> people around her clearly have the ambition on her behalf and are looking at what the possibilities might be. defense frankly, even though it would give her commander in chief, the defense is not a great place to be in a year where there's going to be massive budget cutting. the fallout from all the things that bob gates is doing and a war that is not easily -- >> i think that's where the country is right now. 20% of people think washington is doing a good job. 80% hate washington. the idea that anybody, hillary clinton or anybody, who's been in washington for a good two decades now is going to be
president in the next 10 years, it would take a gigantic change in public opinion. chris: we're going to put up that question. if she wants to be elected president in 2016, would hillary be smarter to run as a member of obama's administration or as an outsider? nine say outsiders, just three say inside the team. katty, you say she's better off inside. andrea and david, you both said better off outside. you've already said that, way outside. >> i think the assumption is that if a democrat is going to win for a third term it will only be because the administration that's in power at the time is doing incredibly well. so if the situation is that obama is doing very well in 2015, if hillary is associated with that administration, she has -- chris: bob, your thoughts. ouor yr reporting, i should say. >> what's interesting, first of all, you have to understand that there are people around hillary clinton -- and i would say her husband, the former president is
one -- the prize is the white house. i mean, imagine if she can ever get to the white house. so a way through the forest, you know, we don't know, but if there is a way, and even if she has to squeeze between two trees, they will tell it. >> will they jump at the vice-presidency if it were offered? >> it might make sense. you know the poll numbers. she brings in latinos, women, working-class voters and seniors, and that's -- those are four areas where obama himse is much weaker. >> i have to ask you this question about what we started with, which is that whole question of the war. if we continue to get this bad news that's been reported in your paper late this week about the war in the afghan front, the pakistan front, will that encourage a faster or slower withdrawal from afghanistan starting next july? >> well, the news is very bad. i have a scene last spring where the president is getting one of these top secret updates on began dewan.
he comes out and he says, given that description of the problem, i don't know how we designed or came up with the solution. so inside -- and you notice recently he's not been saying anything about this. he's a realist. that report the white house sent up to congress was a hand grenade. chris: we've got to get out or we've got to go in debt. >> well, it's not hard ball, it's a crystal ball. you're trying to say, and we don't know. chris: what's he going to do? >> it's almost impossible to say how that would influence because there's strong arguments for both sides. so making it a faster withdrawal or making it a slower withdrawal. i suppose it depends on what the other options are. it will depend on what's happening in afghanistan or having an uptick of terrorism, and we need to focus somewhere else. >> i think it depends on whether you have a functioning government in pakistan and whether we have a war against those border of the tribal regions. one thing to keep an eye on is general petraeus and the whole
negotiating fact with the taliban. that is the exit strategy, if it works. >> i would underline that. petraeus, if he still believes in the mission, it will be tough to go against whatever he wants. chris: so he's the boss. >> he has large influence. chris: i read your book. i think your book suggests this president is very open to the idea that we may have to make a big decision. >> it's joe biden who tells him you may have to make a real hard decision, man, not mr. president, but man. you know, that's delaware talk. chris: that's delaware valley anyway. before we break, sarah palin had a tussle this week with the alaska senate kennedy she held back in the primary. joe miller just couldn't do tter than this. technical answer to this simple question -- is palin qualified to be president? >> we know that we have a constitutional requirement for somebody that's going to run for president. of course she's qualified. chris: in other words, all he could say is that she's 35 and born here.
it brings to mind some famous other less than ringing endorsements. back in 1960 ike had trouble with a question about richard nixon, his own vice president. >> i just wondered if you could give us an example of a major idea of his that you had adopted in that role as the decider and final -- >> if you'll give me a week, i might think of one. i don't remember. chris: what a nice guy. in 1980 it couldn't have been more awkward when jimmy carter wanted a united we stand convention photo with ted kennedy after their bitter battle for the nomination. kennedy just wouldn't do it. and in 2000, when george w. bush finally won the nomination from john mccain, mccain was dragged kicking and screaming. >> it may not be love, but in politics it's the next best thing. today texas governor george w. bush was formally endorsed by shistrongest opponent, arizona senator john mccain. it was only recently that mccain decided to endorse what one reporter called taking your medicine now, not later.
>> i think you take the medicine now and that's probably a good description. chris: the shoe was on the other foot eight years later when president bush endorsed mccain. here's how that played on "the daily show." >> senator mccain -- >> let me just ask kelly -- >> given president bush's low approval rg,atin how much do you hope he'll campaign for you on the trail? >> i hope that president will find time from his busy schedule. he'll campaign for me as much as is keeping with his busy schedule, in keeping with his schedule as it fits into his busy schedule. [laughter] chris: yeah, busy schedule. >> did you see waves doing right before you got there -- what he was doing right before you got there? [laughter] >> see ya on the campaign trail, boys! chris: when we come back, some of the way-out candidates on the right who are spouting wild ideas. they'll become u.s. senators
chris: welcome back. this is a tough year for establishment politicians. the in crowd has yielded a crop of volatile, edgy, some would say way-out candidates, and right now some look like winners in november. in case you need a reminder, here are some greatests,it h starting with delaware's republican u.s. senate nominee, christine o'donnell. >> i'm not a witch. >> would you have voted for the civil rights act of 1964? >> i like the civil rights act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public do mains and i'm all in favor of that. >> but -- >> you had to ask me the but.
>> people are really looking toward those second-amendment remedies. they're saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? and i'll tell you, the first thing they need to do is take harry reid out. >> i'll take you out, buddy. >> you're going to take me out? how are you going to do that? >> watch. chris: oh, my god. dad, for the defense. sect-amendment rs,enue they're going to start shooting congress people? they got this character out of whatever. >> take ug out, friend. chris: i'm going to take you out. are people this angry that these people are going to win? >> i'm going to have some good lunches. listen, the people are angry. you get a big wave, you sweep in a lot of stuff. i don't think paladino and o'donnell is going to win. you get a big wave -- chris: you gave me one. second-amendment remedy. she says people have a right to use their guns if they don't like members of congress. what does that mean? >> that's the democratic way,
david. [laughter] >> on the evidence -- so if you ask people, ok, you take independent voters, do they look at these people and they say, those people are crazy. i'm not voting for the republicans if that's what it means. so are the independents pulling back? if you look at all the evidence, it suggests no. the tea party, none of that is scaring away independents. so the essential point is this election is about spending, about democrats. we don't care. it's anybody else. chris: if i were one of the democrats i'd say, have i offended them this much? >> you know, i think what they are looking for is somebody that is so outrageous and so critical of washington. as long as you're against washington -- >> so they want to throw a grenade into washington. >> in some cases they're looking specifically for politicians that don't sound like politics. so the more you say things that in a normal cycle might be whacky, to some extent it seems to be playing to candidates' adesntagva, because it makes them sound like we're not scripted, we are actually our
own people and we speak our minds. >> people are driven by the resentments and angers always. if you go back to the declaration of independence, 2/3 of it was a list of grievances against george iii. now barack obama and democrats -- >> and the pledge of america reads too much like it. chris: so angry that senate is in jeopardy. any security for the democrats? >> even when they're going to lose delaware, there's a 20% chance they'll lose the senate. >> i think the west virginia race is a case in point, where some of these races -- you expect less confidence. chris: can they lose? >> they can certainly lose. chris: can both houses lose the whole game? >> i'd say 19.5% chance. >> chris: it's got to be a lot better than that. i'm looking at these numbers. when we come back, scoops and
predictions. tell me something i don't know. be right back. [ male announcer ] taxes. so who called prop 13 a "fraud" and a "rip off?" jerry brown. who raised the gas tax as governor, and pushed for higher sales taxes? jerry brown. who tried five times to raise property taxes in oakland? jerry brown. who supported higher statewide income taxes? jerry brown. and who says, if elected, he'll ask voters for even more new taxes? jerry brown. governor jerry brown, again? hide your wallet.
[laughter] chris: ok. >> one of the biggest unknown consequences of unemployment, the effect that it's having on children. children of the unemployed less likely to do well in school, more likely to drop out of high school, more likely to repeat a year and more likely to earn less when they do finish school. >> the military is running pakistan. there's no civilian government to speak of. >> every election cycle this time, slup starts applying their models, and they had amazing republican geabs of 13 points to 15-point advantages. you have to go back 100 years. chris: i think republicans are all going to vote this year. george bush's autobiography is out after the midterms. ift's i well reiecved, could it crack open the door for jeb bush? to run in 2012?
>> closed captioning provided by chris: in just three weeks george w. bush's book comes out right after the midterms, which brings us to this week's big question -- will a warm reception for that book crack open the door for jeb bush, a draft for him in 2012? bob woodward? >> i don't think the good will of the brother gets bestowed on
the other brother. chris: expecting a good book? >> yeah, i think it will be interesting. it's going to be a lot of dick, don and dad, dick cheney, don rumsfeld and the father. chris: katty? >> it doesn't change the fact that jeb's last name is bush. chris: is that true? >> i think republicans really like jeb bush and everyone, including barbara bush, always thought that he was the better qualified son. >> when you talk to republican governors, jeb bush's name comes up all the time. he's a close advisor to almost all of them, so he's a big power in the party. chris: i think haley barbour and the party are going to push for him. thanks for a great roundtable. that's the show. thanks for a great roundtable. that's the show. thanks for watching. i say baloney. this state belongs to all of us. we just have to decide we want to change.
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